I will briefly set out the work of the low emissions vehicle, LEV, task force. As Ms Behan outlined, it is a commitment within the programme for Government and the task force has been established to consider the range of measures and options available to the Government to accelerate the deployment of low carbon technologies, especially electric vehicles. It is jointly chaired and comprises a steering group and three working groups. The work of the task force so far has been divided into two phases, with the first focusing solely on electric vehicles, both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, while the second will focus on other alternative fuels.
The first of the working groups deal with market growth stimuli and visibility and its objectives are to present a range of vehicle growth scenarios for the years 2020 to 2025, inclusive, and to examine a range of stimulus options and public leadership measures. Infrastructure, energy regulation and pricing are the focus of the second working group which has been tasked with devising a sustainable policy framework to ensure sufficient effective and efficient electric vehicle charging and fuelling infrastructure for LEVs. It is also considering the development of a sufficient network of refuelling points, providing an appropriate range of options for low-carbon alternatives. The third working group is dealing with planning legislation, building regulations and public leadership. It will examine building and planning legislation and how to facilitate charging and refuelling infrastructure and mobility for LEVs. It will set out, for example, to ensure simple measures such as the marking of appropriate free public parking locations for LEV users are implemented via the correct channels. Some key early findings from the task force are expected to be fed into the 2018 budgetary process later this summer.
Turning to electric vehicle targets, in 2008 the Government outlined plans of an initial target of 10% of the car fleet or approximately 230,000 cars to be electric by 2020. In 2014, however, it was decided to revise this target downwards to better reflect the prevailing macroeconomic climate and specifically the level of EV uptake which was lower than anticipated. Consequently, Ireland's third national energy efficiency action plan stated that approximately 50,000 electric vehicles could form part of the transport fleet in 2020. In the light of technology and fuel price evolution, this figure has been further revised, consequent on analysis underpinning the national policy framework for alternative fuels infrastructure which forecast that there could be in the region of 20,000 electric vehicles in Ireland by 2020.
Apart from economic considerations, technology advancement, affordability and consumer choice are the most important levers in triggering consumers to move from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles. Notwithstanding the substantial Exchequer support available, the reality of a halving of the price of oil and the pace of technology improvement has very significantly impacted on electric vehicle market penetration. Nevertheless, we have seen growing numbers of electric vehicles registered in Ireland, particularly from 2015 onwards, facilitated in part by the greater choice of models available.
The electric vehicle grants scheme provides grant aid of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new full battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid and is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI. The scheme is kept under constant review and will continue throughout 2017, with an allocation of €5 million for that purpose. The grants are in addition to VRT relief of up to €5,000 that also applies. Budget 2017 extended VRT relief on plug-in hybrid vehicles to the end of 2018 and on battery electric vehicles to 2021. Over 2,000 electric vehicles have been supported to date, of which over 75% have been grant-aided since 2015. So far in 2017, just over 450 EV grants have been awarded, which represents growth of approximately 25% in sales this year.
Turning towards the 2009 renewable energy directive and specifically our renewable transport target, all member states have been set a binding target that at least 10% of their energy use in the transport sector be derived from renewable sources by 2020. This obviously works in tandem with the overall obligation of meeting 16% of our overall energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In common with other member states, Ireland has sought to meet its target in the transport sector primarily through the use of sustainable biofuels, alongside a contribution from electric vehicles. The biofuels obligation scheme is the principal mechanism being deployed to meet our renewable energy target in transport by 2020. The SEAI has calculated that 5.7% of transport energy requirements were met from renewable sources at the end of 2015, when the weightings for double certificates were accounted for as provided for under the directive.
Biofuels have played a significant role in trying to reduce Ireland greenhouse gas emissions in the non-emissions trading scheme sector. The introduction of the obligation scheme in 2010 has meant that road transport fuel suppliers have to ensure biofuels represent a certain percentage of national annual fuel sales. As and from January 2017, the obligation is that for every 92 litres of fossil fuel the relevant fuel supplier has placed on the market, it must hold 8 biofuel certificates, in other words, 8% by volume. The Department intends to publish a consultation paper later this year to examine the potential for further phased increases under the biofuels obligation scheme. Further increases could create an increasing demand for biofuels and opportunities for their production. Policy on biofuels has to take into account the requirements set out in the fuel quality directive and the provisions of the indirect land use change directive.
In November 2016, as part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the European Commission proposed a new renewable energy directive to apply after 2020. The provisions build on the existing directive and provide a framework for renewable energy development to 2030. Under the proposals, food-based biofuels are to be phased out, chiefly owing to concerns about indirect land use change and other food versus fuel issues. The role of advanced biofuels has become increasingly important and a mandatory target of 6.8% has been proposed for transport fuel suppliers to provide for an increasing share of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including advanced biofuels, renewable transport fuels of non-biological origin, waste-based fuels and renewable electricity by 2030. The figure of 6.8% includes at least 3.6% for advanced biofuels from waste and residues. There is no proposal to maintain the existing national binding target for transport of 10% beyond 2020, although this will be subject to negotiation between the Council and the European Parliament.
The most important transformation in transport will be the replacement of conventional fossil fuel vehicles on the roads. The initial investment in alternative technologies is, admittedly, costly, but it can help Ireland to adapt more quickly to the transition away from conventional fuels. The costs are challenging and there is obviously a need to balance constrained investment resources against other key needs. There must be a robust assessment of the impact. It is clear, however, that the transition to alternative fuels and technologies most effectively sets Ireland on the right path towards decarbonisation and having cleaner air.